Monday, June 25, 2012

Charlie's Magic Carpet Ride to Abu Dhabi

by Christine Michaels
Charlie soaking the Miami sun at condo before move

This is part two about a Riverfront cat named Charlie. In our first story, we introduced you to Charlie, a cat that was [illegally] dumped in our neighborhood. He survived which makes him one of the lucky few. This post covers his special flight arrangements to his new home country, the costs involved, and his temporary home. I learned so much about transporting pets and about one middle eastern cattery.

 When Charlie's foster parents fell in love with him, Nina (his new mother) shared  that they were moving to Abu Dhabi of the United Arab Emirates (UAE). "The Middle East?!" I exclaimed. At first I was excited envisioning their exotic adventure living abroad, but then my brain rewinded. "But what about transporting pets and quarantine periods?..." I nervously pelted her with questions.

Nina explained that the UAE does not require a quarantine period for pets originating from the United States. Whew! But the airline they had already booked required that pets fly in cargo.  Let's see there's the flight from Miami to New York, the layover and then the long flight from New York to Abu Dhabi... "Where's that unpolished Aladdin's lamp when you really need it? Genie hello? We need a magic carpet!" I thought to myself. I shared my concerns with Nina. As a devouted mother who wanted to ensure the safety and well-being of her pet, Nina did some homework.  The next time we spoke Nina had exhaustively researched all options. With the help of a local contact in Abu Dhabi, Nina learned about Air Animal, an airline that specializes in the transport of pets and any animal to various countries. 

In the above video, I'm visiting Charlie after learning he's moving to Abu Dhabi.

Naturally there was an obstacle course of paperwork to complete including certain veterinarian medical tests, vaccinations, and certifications mostly requirements of UAE customs. Then Nina hired a private driver to pick up Charlie from the Abu Dhabi airport (he would arrive a day before Nina) and transport him to a temporary home, a cattery. The total costs to transport Charlie including the UAE's customs' fees for bringing a pet, the Animal Air fare, and the driver totaled $2,500. Notary was not required. I was so impressed. This is a model example of a responsible pet owner.

So Charlie was set to travel on a Wednesday and Nina delivered him to the airline near the Miami airport. She also packed his regular food, both moist and dry and included her shirt as his blanket inside the carrier, a familiar scent to ease any anxieties. Upon arriving at Animal Air, Nina notified me that his flying neighbors were ducks! (They should have named the airline "Noah's Ark"!). Apparently the carriers are placed inside oversized cages that are secured inside the cabin. The airline made a stop in Dusseldorf where Charlie was given additional food and water and the airline contacted Nina with the update--wow talk about personal service every step of the way! Upon arriving in Abu Dhabi, a driver picked up Charlie to chauffer him to the cattery while Nina and Felipe would reside in a nearby hotel until they found a permanent home. (Hmm, he's starting to look and sound more like his nickname "Richie Rich").

Nina arrived on Friday and immediately went to visit her baby. She would visit Charlie every day except Saturday is which like Sunday in the US. (In UAE their weekend is Friday and Saturday).  The cattery is housed in a typical Middle Eastern style two-story villa.  Each cage is taller than a human with four "shelves" on one side so Charlie has plenty of room to climb.  Even Nina could fit into the cage facing the shelves.

American Vet Clinic & Cattery

Cattery in Abu Dhabi
Charlie is cage #16
Curtains separate cages so cats have "privacy"
Each cage has name, age, description of cat, feeding schedule,
special instructions and contact information of pet owner

Nina visits with Charlie and lets him out
for playtime and exercise

Nina takes photo of Charlie inside the cage next to him

So how is Charlie adapting? According to Nina, one day he just wants affection and constant petting, the next day he's playful, and the next day he wants to explore other parts of the cattery. Yup, he's adjusting like most curious cats.  It won't be long, perhaps another week, before Nina, Felipe and Richie Rich move to their new home. We'll keep you posted!

Charlie welcomes your comments and cat wishes. Click "comment" below.

Click here for Part III "Charlie's New Home in Abu Dhabi"


  1. How wonderful!! Thank you for the update and look forward to more ^..^

  2. Yay Nina and Felipe! ♥ By now Charlie's in Abu Dhabi already, and I've already seen pictures, so you should all keep watching for the next installments!

  3. What I meant was Charlie is already "home" in his mom and dad's apartment, and Nina has some great pix from there. Stay tuned!

  4. Richie Rich aka Charlie is already enjoying the life style of Al Reem Island in Abu Dhabi, but we need to see his latest pics.
    I am very happy for Charie and his parents finally they are already together....

    Proud grand ma, (father's side)

  5. You worry about them as you would a child!

    Where can you leave them that will love them as you do?

    I also live in Abu Dhabi and brought my 17 years old cat with me!

    How is your cat dealing with the heat?

  6. What an amazing story. Thank you so much for sharing this over on BlogPaws. It had me smiling straight through. I love that the travel worked out.